Our Favorite Feeder Birds Are Stocking Up For Winter!
Our thermometers may be telling us it's still summer, but Mother Nature can’t fool us! We know summer is quickly fading away and autumn is knocking on our door. Of course our calendars point that out every day, but the biggest giveaway that our seasons are changing is the decrease in daylight hours. Our birds are noticing this, too! For many birds this of course means it’s time to get out of town and head south. For birds that winter here like Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Woodpeckers and Blue Jays, it means it’s time to stock up on food or, more correctly, it’s time to start storing food for winter or “caching” food.
September through December is peak caching time for some of our favorite birds and these birds can store anywhere from hundreds to thousands of separate caches scattered around their home ranges (your backyard and neighborhood). Take notice of how many of your feeder birds spend less time staying and eating their seeds and nuts at your feeders and instead make repeated quick visits where they fly in and fly away with their food. Or, in the case of Blue Jays, fly in and stuff their mouths full of seeds like a Chipmunk might do. Fun fact: Blue Jays have been known to stuff up to 100 sunflower seeds in their mouth before setting off to hide them!
Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice and Woodpeckers store their seeds and nuts under tree bark and knotholes; and even under roof shingles, house siding and eaves. Some birds hide seeds by covering them with leaves, moss or grass. Blue Jays often bury their winter feasts in the ground. Since their lives depend on it, birds remember where they have cached their food. Birds will often remember key landmarks such as rocks and shrubs that surround their cache locations.
Now here’s something truly amazing! Some birds, Chickadees and Titmice in particular, have a physiological response to the need for memory…their brains actually grow in autumn and shrink back in spring when food becomes more plentiful!!!
How often do we find ourselves loosing our car keys, our cell phone, or even our glasses when they are right on top of our head? Kinda of makes you think…hmmm, being a “bird brain” might not be so bad after all!